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Ballinrobe (Irish: Baile an Róba, meaning “town of the (river) Robe”) is a market centre of around 3,600 people in County Mayo in Ireland, serving as a dormitory town for Castlebar and Galway. It is located on the River Robe, which drains into Lough Mask two kilometres to the west. The population in the 2011 Census was 3,682.

Ballinrobe has more protected buildings than any other town in Mayo. Genealogical records for the region (such as Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic, and civil documents; and gravestone inscription records) are held at the South Mayo Family Research Centre on Main Street.

In 1839, the Union Workhouse of the Poor Law Union of Ballinrobe was founded. The town suffered greatly during the Great Famine of 1845 to 1849. At the height of the famine there were 2000 registered in the overcrowded workhouse.

Perhaps the most notorious name in the locality was Charles Boycott (1832–1897), a British land agent who was ostracised by his community around Ballinrobe, giving rise to the term “boycott”.

In the political sphere, Noël Browne (1915–1997), the first inter-party government’s minister for health, lived on Church Lane in his youth. Shocked by the absence of ante-natal care for pregnant woman, and the resulting infant mortality rates in Ireland, he proposed free access to health care for mothers and children in a new “mother and child scheme”.

John King (1865–1938) from Currabee, Ballinrobe was a sailor in the United States Navy and one of only 19 in history to receive the Medal of Honor twice. The USS John King (DDG-3) was named in his honour.

Henry Blosse Lynch (1807–1873), was born at nearby Partry House and grew up on his family’s 1,500-acre estate. He became a decorated explorer in Africa and the Middle East and was a navy commander. Partry House continues to this day, on the shores of Lough Carra.

Feliksas Vaitkus (Felix Waitkus) (1907–1956) was an American-born Lithuanian pilot and the sixth person to cross the Atlantic solo in a single engine aircraft who crash landed on the outskirts of Ballinrobe in 1935.

Courtney Kenny, an internationally recognised pianist, is from Ballinrobe. Amongst many achievements he joined the world renowned Glyndebourne Festival Opera in Sussex, and has since worked with many opera companies in the UK and elsewhere.  He formed his own opera company and brought his Company to Ballinrobe on occasions in the 1960’s.  He was also Head of the Music Staff with the New Sadler’s Wells Opera (an operetta company) in London.

Rory O’Neill, a drag queen who performs as “Panti Bliss”, is from Ballinrobe. He has performed all over the world, appeared on television, hosted Alternative Miss Ireland, and runs a nightclub in Dublin called Pantibar.

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